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29th June   

Update: Supreme Scrutiny...

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US supreme court will consider whether the FCC brand of TV censorship is constitutional
Link Here

US Supreme CourtThe Supreme Court has announced that it will take up a case to determine whether the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) enforcement of broadcast decency rules is constitutional.

The court will begin to hear arguments this fall in what is expected to be a fierce battle between the TV censors and the broadcasters over First Amendment interpretations.

The FCC's role as an arbiter of what is and isn't prudent to air during hours when children may be watching has come under intense scrutiny. Nutter complaints about broadcast TV and radio have skyrocketed in recent years.

We are hopeful that the Court will affirm the Commission's exercise of its statutory responsibility to protect children and families from indecent broadcast programming, a spokesman from the FCC chairman's office said in a statement.

Last year, the Court of Appeals in New York sided with broadcasters, saying the FCC's authority as decency watchdog was vague and that its enforcement could have a chilling effect on the broadcast industry.

 

28th June   

Bye Bob...

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Bob Pisano steps down as president of the MPAA
Link Here

MPAA logoBob Pisano is stepping down as president and chief operating officer of the Motion Picture Assn. of America after nearly six years on the job.

Pisano's departure was expected after the board of the MPAA, which acts as Hollywood's chief lobbying arm on Capitol Hill, tapped former U.S. Senator Chris Dodd as its chairman and chief executive earlier this year.

Pisano, who held the post since 2005, had been a candidate for the top job after Dan Glickman gave up the post last year. Pisano served as the organization's interim chief executive from January 2010 through March of this year, when, after an extensive search, Dodd was selected to be the group's new leader.

 

28th June   

Update: Thin News...

American Medical Association has a whinge at photoshopped models
Link Here  full story: Photoshopped Models...Campaigners to ban photoshopped adverts

ralph laurenThe American Medical Association has a whinge about the use of photo-edited fashion pictures due to the supposedly negative impact it can have on the self-esteem of children and teenagers that see them.

The organisation announced a policy against the practice today at its annual meeting. A statement released afterwards explained how a large body of literature links exposure to media-propagated images of unrealistic body image to eating disorders and other child and adolescent health problems.

It said that it wants to encourage advertising associations to work with public and private sector organizations concerned with child and adolescent health to develop guidelines for advertisements, especially those appearing in teen-oriented publications, that would discourage the altering of photographs in a manner that could promote unrealistic expectations of appropriate body image.

The AMA had particular criticism for Ralph Lauren, which has a history of using Photoshop to extremes. A member of the organisation was quoted referring to an incident in 2009, when the label edited a picture of model Filippa Hamilton to the extent that her head was bigger than her waist.

They said: In one image, a model's waist was slimmed so severely, her head appeared to be wider than her waist. We must stop exposing impressionable children and teenagers to advertisements portraying models with body types only attainable with the help of photo editing software.

 

27th June   

Update: Minor Technicality...

US Supreme Court strikes down law banning retailers from selling violent games to minors
Link Here  full story: Violent Games in the US...Attempts to restrict video games from minors

us supreme courtThe US Supreme Court has struck down a Californian law banning the sale or rental of violent video games to those aged under 18.

The court voted 7-2 to uphold an appeals court ruling that declared the law contrary to free speech rights enshrined in the US Constitution.

Speaking at the Supreme Court, Justice Antonin Scalia said: Our cases hold that minors are entitled to a significant degree of First Amendment protection. Government has no free-floating power to restrict the ideas to which they may be exposed.

The 2005 California law prohibited the sale of violent video games to children where a reasonable person would find that the violent content appeals to a deviant or morbid interest of minors, is patently offensive to prevailing community standards as to what is suitable for minors, and causes the game as a whole to lack serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value for minors . Under the law retailers caught selling the titles to minors could face a fine of up to $1,000 for each game.

 

25th June   

Awakened from Rest...

Supporting the NC-17 hype for Chromeskull: Laid to Rest 2
Link Here

ChromeSkull Laid Rest 2 Unrated The MPAA has handed down an NC-17 rating to Chromeskull: Laid to Rest 2 .

DreadCentral reports the Chromeskull: Laid to Rest 2 is riddled with some of the most insane bits of violence and kills we've ever seen .

Director Rob Hall said: I think it's great the MPAA had a problem with almost every kill in the film. If they didn't, we wouldn't have done our jobs correctly. They have a job to do, and so do I ... and luckily Image [Entertainment] has been super supportive and has committed to releasing the film UNRATED and on Blu-ray, which makes me happy. Just to clarify, there will be a rated R cut as well, but I think most outlets will prefer the hardcore unrated cut ... I know I do.

 

24th June   

Shuffling Censors...

Qatar reorganises its censorship departments
Link Here

Qatar flagQatar is reorganising its government censors.

The Department of Press and Publications will have three sections- licensing, publications and artistic works:

  • Licensing Section is concerned with issuance licenses those in the journalism field, issuing licenses for publications, press and printing houses, publishers, libraries, and registering journalists, publishers and printing house workers.
  • The Department of Publications is concerned with censorship on publications which are presented to the state; prepare a register of publications, approval of the issuance and distribution of publications and the issuing of books and pamphlets.
  • The Department of artistic works controls works locally and externally produced; keep files on private works of art; control over the foreign movies and the censorship of personal works received by state for personal use.

The Department of Communications will have two sections:

  • Department of broadcast licenses, which is responsible for the procedures of granting licenses and operation of audio and video broadcasting facilities
  • broadcast control section which will follow-up established licensing requirements, supervise and inspect broadcasters and re-transmission, control audio and video materials and control the rates and time of broadcast advertising.

 

23rd June   

Update: End Game...

US Supreme Court due to decide if California's age restrictions on violent computer games are lawful
Link Here  full story: Violent Games in the US...Attempts to restrict video games from minors

us supreme courtIn November, the United States Supreme Court heard arguments in the case of Schwarzenegger vs. Entertainment Merchants Association. Seven months later, the Justices have yet to decide whether or not California can regulate the sale of violent video games, but with the court now in the last two weeks of its term, a ruling is imminent. The case is now known as Brown vs. EMA.

In 2005, the California legislature passed AB 1179, a law that would punish retailers who sold or rented violent, mature-rated videogames to anyone under 18 years old. The lower court quickly struck down the law on free-speech grounds, as did lower courts in a dozen other states over the years that attempted to enact similar pieces of legislation.

The Supreme Court agreed to consider California's case in April 2010. During the hearing, California attorney Zackery Morazzini argued that states should be able to ban the sale of violent video games to anyone under 18 just as they can restrict the sale of pornography.

Due to the end of court session, the judgement is due in the next week. The court could also extend the current session into July if it is unable to make a decision on the matter, though such extensions are rare.

 

22nd June   

Dope...

Mayor of Boston gets wound up by Nike t-shirts
Link Here

nike get high A new line of Nike T-shirts feature slogans that are stirring up nutter controversy.

Some of the shirts read Get High, Dope and Get Wet.

They are all part of Nike's 6.0 Brand, which is made for athletes competing in the extreme sports of surfing, skiing, bmx biking, wakeboarding and motocross.

Boston's Mayor Tom Menino is hoping Nike will just do it when he asks them to remove a controversial T-shirt display. The mayor is upset over shirts at the Newbury Street store that feature pill bottles and say get high and dope. The mayor says the athletic company is sending the wrong message to youths.

One nutter commented: I think the one that says 'Dope' with the pills on it is very inappropriate. I don't think that's a message Nike would want to be sending to people, especially around Portland where a lot of people have drug problems.

Those pills are actually tiny surfboards coming out of the pill bottle.

In a statement, Nike says The T-shirts are part of an action sports campaign featuring marquee athletes using commonly used and accepted expressions for performance.

A staff member at the Nike employee store told FOX 12 that the Dope and Get High shirts are the most popular and they are purchased almost exclusively by teens. The shirts range between $20-24 and can be bought at Nike stores and at nike.com.

 

21st June   

Ratings Rated as 2nd Rate...

Study reveals that parents would prefer content ratings so that they can make up their own mind about age appropriateness
Link Here

pediatrics New research indicates that many parents believe media ratings help them make decisions about what type of content they allow their children to be exposed to, but improvements in media rating systems are needed.

The research, involving the opinions of more than 2,300 adults, also indicates that there is sometimes disagreement on matters involving age appropriateness for various kinds of content. What some might deem appropriate for one specific childhood age group might be considered inappropriate by other adults. Many parents believe that current rating systems are inaccurate and need to be improved.

A majority of parents surveyed felt there should be a universal rating system for all media, including web sites, music CDs, and games played on handheld devices.

Current rating systems vary widely among movies, television, and video games and can be confusing, according to analysis of three surveys.

The researchers also mention ratings creep, meaning that ratings over time tend to become more lenient. They cite another previous study of 2,000 films and found that one that was rated PG-13 in 2003 included about the same amount of violence, nudity, and offensive language as one rated R a decade earlier.

Parents were asked views on the age appropriateness of allowing kids to see such things as romantic kissing, partial nudity, implied sexual situations, depictions of drug and alcohol use, and to hear offensive language or insults about body parts.

They also were asked about when kids of various ages should be allowed to be exposed to situations of sexual innuendo and suggestive sexual dialogue. Opinions varied widely. The largest percentage of parents indicated age 17 and older might be appropriate for media involving sexual situations, explicit sex, explicit dialogue, partial nudity, and commercials with sexual content.

Researchers reached a number of key conclusions. For example:

  • Parents want detailed content ratings along with age-based ratings.
  • Ratings only are effective if they can help parents make decisions, but current systems vary and can be confusing
  • Different demographics variables, such as church attendance and personal values, may be related to perceptions of age appropriateness for different kinds of content.
  •  It would be impossible to have age-based ratings that would be deemed suitable by all demographic groups; content-based ratings may be preferable to age-based ratings.

Clearly defined and available content descriptors provide the most information and they allow parents to make their own decisions about age appropriateness, the researchers write.

The research is published in the July issue of Pediatrics.

 

21st June   

Obscure Censorship...

Google Earth only shows Israel and Palestine in low resolution
Link Here

Google EarthSince Google launched its Google Earth feature in 2005, the company has become a worldwide leader in providing high-resolution satellite imagery. There is one entire country, however, that Google Earth won't show you: Israel.

That's because, in 1997, US Congress passed the National Defense Authorization Act, one section of which is titled, Prohibition on collection and release of detailed satellite imagery relating to Israel. The amendment, known as the Kyl-Bingaman Amendment, calls for a federal agency, the NOAA's Commercial Remote Sensing Regulatory Affairs, to regulate the dissemination of zoomed-in images of Israel.

When asked about the regulation, a Google spokeswoman said to Mother Jones, The images in Google Earth are sourced from a wide range of both commercial and public sources. We source our satellite imagery from US-based companies who are subject to US law, including the Kyl-Bingaman Amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act of 1997, which limits the resolution of imagery of Israel that may be commercially distributed.

And it's not just Israel. The regulation also applies to the occupied territories. It's why Human Rights Watch can't provide detailed imagery of the Gaza Strip in its reports.

 

16th June   

Shield Lowered...

New Jersey journalist protection ruled not apply to comments on an internet forum
Link Here

New Jersey state sealA blogger sued for defamation over comments posted on an Internet message board is not entitled to the same protections as a journalist, the New Jersey Supreme Court has ruled.

The court said that blogger Shellee Hale's criticism of a software company on a porn industry bulletin board was not covered by the New Jersey press shield law, which protects members of the news media from revealing their confidential sources.

In an online reader forum, Hale had accused Too Much Media LLC, which provides software to adult entertainment sites, of profiting from a 2007 security breach that exposed customers' personal information.

After the company sued Hale for defamation.

(We) do not believe that the legislature intended to provide an absolute privilege in defamation cases to people who post comments on message boards, the court wrote. Otherwise anyone with a Facebook account could claim the journalist privilege, it said. Instead, the court concluded that online message boards are little more than unscreened reader comment pages or public forums for discussion.

 

15th June   

Free Speech Murdered in Florida...

New law curbs access to details about murders
Link Here

Florida state sealReporters Without Borders has called on Florida Governor Rick Scott to urgently withdraw or amend a measure curbing access to details of murders which it said seriously undermined the media's ability to investigate and the public's right to know the truth about such crimes. It said it was a violation of the national constitution, which guarantees the right to inform and to be informed.

The organization said the new law, enacted on 2 June and banning release of photos, videos or recordings connected with a murder, had ruined recent efforts to improve tense relations between the media and the governor's office and provide greater media access.

 

14th June   

Update: End of the So Called Fairness Doctrine...

Fox News no longer required to be fair and balanced
Link Here  full story: Censorship by Fairness...Demands that radio and TV should be fair to all views

FCC logoThe Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has announced that it is abandoning the so-called Fairness Doctrine, an FCC policy introduced in 1949 which requires the holders of broadcast licenses to both present controversial issues of public importance and to do so in a manner that was, in the Commission's view, honest, equitable and balanced.

Congress backed the policy in 1954, and by the 1970s the FCC called the doctrine the single most important requirement of operation in the public interest required for a renewal of license.

Much of the regulation was repealed in the 1980s under FCC Chairman Fowler, but the doctrine is still technically on the books. Representative Greg Walden, chairman of the subcommittee on communications, applauded the news that it would be eliminated: We are heartened by your continued opposition to the Fairness Doctrine because of its chilling effects on free speech and the free flow of ideas.

Just as opponents of the so-called Fairness Doctrine are applauding efforts by the FCC to fully eliminate the regulation that once mandated political diversity on the airwaves, some are warning that the doctrine's proponents could pursue the same goals without the measure.

Commissioner Robert McDowell, a Republican, is urged caution: I think what happened today at the FCC is positive, but folks shouldn't be popping any champagne corks just yet . McDowell warns that traces of the Fairness Doctrine are still on the books and it will take some time to truly eliminate them. He says his goal is to get that done by the end of the year.

 

13th June   

Update: Jose Luis Censored...

Campaign against US TV show Jose Luis Sin Censura gains traction
Link Here  full story: Jose Luis Sin Censura...Spanish language US channel winds up nutters

Jose Luis Sin Censura Caliente A months-long campaign by the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation and the National Hispanic Media Coalition to protest the Liberman Broadcasting talk show Jose Luis Sin Censura has picked up steam, with one major TV station agreeing to drop the program from its line-up.

The organizations said that two advertisers, AT&T and Time Warner Cable, had withdrawn advertising from the show, which is produced in Burbank and runs on Liberman's Spanish-language Estrella TV network.

In addition, Miami station WSVN-TV Channel 7, owned by Sunbeam Television, dropped the show from one of its digital channels.

One of the network's most popular daytime programs, Jose Luis Sin Censura has been described as an extreme version of a raunchy Spanish-language Jerry Springer, complete with flying fists and hair-pulling brawls between guests and an occasional audience member. The audience at times chants anti-gay slurs at show participants.

There are young people watching this program. It is this kind of content that gives teenagers, and even adults, the green light to use this language and act violently against gay and transgender people, GLAAD President Jarrett Barrios said in an interview. It is our hope that other advertisers and fair-minded broadcasters who are worried about these depictions will not support or air this show.

 

12th June   

Frightening and Intimidating...

Tennessee enacts new law to censor communications
Link Here

Tennessee state sealTennessee Governor Bill Haslam signed a new law last week that makes it a crime to post images to the Internet that frighten, intimidate, or cause emotional distress. Violators found guilty of doing so now face up to one year in jail and $2,500 in fines.

The new law updates existing legislation with the new material italicized:

(a) A person commits an offense who intentionally:

(4) Communicates with another person or transmits or displays an image in a manner in which there is a reasonable expectation that the image will be viewed by the victim by [by telephone, in writing or by electronic communication] without legitimate purpose:

(A)    (i) With the malicious intent to frighten, intimidate or cause emotional distress; or

(ii) In a manner the defendant knows, or reasonably should know, would frighten, intimidate or cause emotional distress to a similarly situated person of reasonable sensibilities; and

(B) As the result of the communication, the person is frightened, intimidated or emotionally distressed.

So the law now applies not just to one-to-one communication, but to people's posting images on their own Facebook pages, on their Web sites, and in other places if (1) they are acting without legitimate purpose, (2) they cause emotional distress, and (3) they intend to cause emotional distress or know or reasonably should know that their action will cause emotional distress to a similarly situated person of reasonable sensibilities.

Needless to say, the Internet is in an uproar over this, and it seems pretty likely that the law will be struck down for being unconstitutional very soon.

 

9th June   

Minor Issue...

US Civil Liberties group asks for permanent injunction against Utah internet censorship law
Link Here

aclu logoA group of booksellers, artists and Internet service providers have asked a federal judge to permanently stop enforcement of a 2005 Utah anti-pornography law.

The Harmful to Minors Act was supposedly intended to make Internet service providers, Web hosts and content providers limit the ability of minors to access pornography on the Internet.

The law seeks to regulate all Internet speech that some might consider harmful to minors, including works of visual art, photography, graphic novels, and information about sexual health and the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth, according to the ACLU of Utah.

A judge blocked enforcement of the statute in 2006 after the ACLU and others filed a lawsuit contending the law violates the U.S. Constitution. The ACLU is now asking for the order to be permanent.

 

5th June   

Update: Museum of Censored Art...

Award for temporary exhibit of art banned by Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery
Link Here

ala logoMike Blasenstein and Michael Dax Iacovone, creators of the one-month-only Museum of Censored Art, have received the John Phillip Immroth Memorial Award for intellectual freedom by the American Library Association, one of the most well-known anti-censorship organizations in the country.

The museum was responsible for showcasing the censored film, A Fire in My Belly , by gay artist David Wojnarowicz. The video was originally a part of the gay and lesbian art exhibition Hide/Seek at the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery, and contains an 11-second segment that shows ants running on a crucifix.

After the film was banned by Smithsonian Secretary G. Wayne Clough, Blasenstein and Iacovone set up a trailer in front of the institution's National Portrait Gallery, where the film was shown along with other exhibits concerning the controversy about the film. The exhibits included a timeline of the Smithsonian's censorship and one that contrasted Clough's words and actions.

Almost 6,500 patrons came to visit the trailer, which was open from Jan. 13 to Feb. 13, the last day of the Hide/Seek exhibit.

The award will be given June 25 to Blasenstein and Iacovone in New Orleans at the association's annual conference.

 

2nd June   

Censorship Sucks...

Supporting the hype for Suck It and See by the Arctic Monkeys
Link Here

Suck See Digipack Arctic Monkeys The new album by Arctic Monkeys, Suck It And See , has been censored in America because the title is supposedly too rude . Some unspecified supermarket chains say they will only sell the album with a sticker covering the offending words.

Alex Turner from the band told Xfm: They think it is rude, disrespectful and they're putting a sticker over it in America in certain stores, big ones. The singer admitted the title had not travelled very well .

Suck It And See is released on 6 June.

 

28th May   

Updated: PROTECT IP Bill...

Repressive US internet censorship bill
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in USA...Domain name seizures and SOPA

US SenateThe US has come up with a far reaching internet censorship bill called  PROTECT IP ( Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property).

The bill is an attempt to deal with foreign sites which can be difficult for US enforcement to reach, even when those sites explicitly target US citizens.

The PROTECT IP Act makes a few major changes to last year's COICA legislation. First, it does provide a more limited definition of sites dedicated to infringing activities. The previous definition was criticized as being unworkably vague, and it could have put many legitimate sites at risk.

While the definition of targeted sites is tighter, the remedies against such sites get broader. COICA would have forced credit card companies like MasterCard and Visa to stop doing business with targeted sites, and it would have prevented ad networks from working with such sites. It also suggested a system of DNS blocking to make site nominally more difficult to access.

The PROTECT IP Act adds one more entity to this list: search engines. According to the detailed summary of the PROTECT IP Act, this addition responds to concerns raised that search engines are part of the ecosystem that directs Internet user traffic and therefore should be part of the solution.

Rightsholders also score a major victory with the new legislation, which grants them a private right of action---something Google publicly trashed as a terrible idea earlier this year. Copyright and trademark holders don't have to badger the government into targeting sites under the new bill; they are allowed to seek court orders directly, though these orders would only apply to payment processors and advertising networks (not to ISPs or search engines).

The emphasis here is on forcing intermediaries to get involved in policing such sites. The PROTECT IP Act goes even further than forcing these intermediaries to take action after a court order; it actively encourages them to take unilateral action without any sort of court order at all.

Update: Passed Committee

27th May 2011. See article from torrentfreak.com

The controversial PROTECT IP Act unanimously passed the Senate Judiciary Committee today. When the PROTECT IP Act becomes law U.S. authorities and copyright holders will have the power to seize domains, block websites and censor search engines to prevent copyright infringements. Introduced just two weeks ago, the bill now heads over to the Senate for further consideration and another vote.

Two weeks ago a group of U.S. senators proposed legislation to make it easier to crack down on so-called rogue websites, and today the Senate's Judicial Committee unanimously approved the bill.

When the PROTECT IP Act becomes law the authorities can legitimately seize any domain name they deem to be facilitating copyright infringement. All that's required to do so is a preliminary order from the court. But that's just the start, the bill in fact provides a broad range of censorship tools.

In case a domain is not registered or controlled by a U.S. company, the authorities can also order search engines to remove the website from its search results, order ISPs to block the website, and order ad-networks and payment processors to stop providing services to the website in question.

Update: Blocked

28th May 2011. See article from indexoncensorship.org

Just hours after the PROTECT IP Act passed unanimously in the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday, Democratic Senator Ron Wyden from Oregon placed a hold to prevent it from reaching the Senate.

Wyden argued the legislation was an overreaching approach to policing the internet.

 

23rd May   

Update: Copyright Domain...

US continues action against copyright infringing websites
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in USA...Domain name seizures and SOPA

US takedown noticeUS authorities have resumed Operation In Our Sites and have seized several domain names associated with copyright infringement or counterfeit related crimes. Among the new targets are two sites that linked to copyrighted films hosted on third party streaming sites such as megavideo.com and veoh.com.

Previously under the flag of Operation In Our Sites the authorities shut down a dozen file-sharing and streaming sites and many more accused of selling counterfeit goods.

TorrentFreak was able to confirm the latest targets:

  • Re1ease.net
  • Watchnewfilms.com
  • Dvdcollectionsale.com
  • Dvdscollection.com
  • Dvdsetsonline.com
  • Newstylerolex.com
  • mygolfaccessory.com
  • overbestmall.com

The first two domains are accused of copyright-related offenses, but did not host any copyrighted films themselves. Both Re1ease.net and Watchnewfilms.com linked to popular movie streaming sites such as Veoh.com and Megavideo.com. The rest of the domains appear to be connected to sales of counterfeit goods.

The new targets were most likely put forward to ICE by movie industry groups. In April of this year ICE director John Morton admitted that his organization was acting based on tips from industry representatives, among others.

The authorities are also aware of the fact that the domain seizures themselves are not really an effective tool. As pointed out before, more than half of the piracy-related domains that were seized by Operation In Our Sites simply continued under a different name.

 

21st May   

Updated: Censor Gender Bender...

US bookstores censor cover picture of topless man
Link Here

dossierTwo major U.S. book retailers have censored an image of andogynous male model Andre Pejic in case customers confuse him for a woman.

The Serbian-born catwalk star, 19, appears topless on the cover of glossy magazine Dossier. But both Barnes & Noble and Borders have demanded that issues of the magazine come wrapped in opaque plastic.

Barnes & Noble said that though it understood that Mr Pejic was male and not female, the model is young and it could be deemed as a naked female.

Dossier co-founder and creative director Skye Parrott told Jezebel.com that the directive came as a shock:

We knew that this cover presented a very strong, androgynous image, and that could make some people uncomfortable. That's partly why we chose it. I guess it has made someone pretty uncomfortable.

Nobody I know has ever heard of anything like this happening, she said. Especially with a guy. Guys are shirtless on magazine covers all the time. [It poses] a very interesting question of gender.

Update: Not True

21st May 2011. See article from advocate.com

Representatives from Barnes & Noble and Borders say reports they censored an issue of Dossier Journal featuring a shirtless, androgynous male model on the cover are false.

At no time did Borders request opaque polybags for this issue of Dossier magazine, Stephanie Laco, Vice President of Marketing and Business Development, told The Advocate in a statement.

A spokeswoman for Barnes & Noble says she doesn't understand how the rumor was started, saying, There was absolutely no conflict.

 

19th May   

Searching for Damages...

US residents sue Chinese search engine over censored posts
Link Here

baidu logoEight New York residents have filed a lawsuit against China and Chinese online-search provider Baidu Inc., alleging they violated the plaintiffs' U.S. constitutional rights by blocking prodemocracy speech from Baidu search results. The complaint seeks damages of $16 million, or $2 million for each plaintiff.

The plaintiffs allege their articles or videos about the Chinese democratic movement are unavailable via searches on Baidu, which the lawsuit calls an agent and enforcer of the anti-democracy policies of China. The censorship violates their rights under the U.S. Constitution, the New York constitution and New York law, the suit alleged. It didn't elaborate on why Baidu should be punished for actions that Baidu says are required by Chinese law.

Senator Richard Durbin earlier this month wrote a letter to Baidu Chief Executive Robin Li expressing concerns that the company wasn't taking measures to safeguard human rights, including freedom of expression and privacy. Durbin said he was working on legislation that would require companies to take steps to protect human rights or face liability, and that Baidu would be subject to such legislation because its shares are traded in the U.S.

 

18th May   

Secret Lack of Judgement...

US Secret Service question schoolboy about Facebook posting
Link Here

us secret service logoA 13 year old schoolboy faced US federal interrogation at school for what he posted on his Facebook page.

After Osama bin Laden was killed, 13-year-old Vito LaPinta posted an update to his Facebook status that got the Feds attention.

I was saying how Osama was dead and for Obama to be careful because there could be suicide bombers, says Vito.

A week later he was called in to the principal's office. A man walked in with a suit and glasses and he said he was part of the Secret Service . He told me it was because of a post I made that indicated I was a threat toward the President. The Tacoma school district acknowledged a Secret Service agent questioned Vito.

The teen's mom says she rushed to Truman Middle School immediately and arrived to discover her son had already been questioned for half an hour. I just about lost it, she said. My 13 year-old son is supposed to be safe and secure in his classroom and he's being interrogated without my knowledge or consent privately.

Vito said that once his mom showed up, the agent finished the interview and told him he was not in any trouble. Now he's more careful about what he posts online.

 

16th May   

Offsite: Pixelated Breasts...

My strange, brief career as a video-game obscenity watchdog
Link Here

ESRBEarlier this month, the Entertainment Software Rating Board---the video-game equivalent of the MPAA---announced that its ratings for online games would soon be determined via an automated questionnaire. Such news would reverberate little outside the industry had it not seemed like the latest evidence that humankind would soon be supplanted by its own doodads. 

For me, though, this announcement was personal. That's because I was lucky enough to intern at ESRB, sifting through video games in search of sexual, violent, and obscene content.

In the summer of 2000, my fellow employees and I vetted releases like Wargasm and Punky Skunk for human blood and female nipples. My job was to plow through the venerable ESRB library, scouring older games for dubious content. Since historical parity ---that is, comparing the latest games to similar titles from the past---is central to the rating process, my work helped ensure the fairness and accuracy of our mission.

...Read the full article

 

11th May   

Faceless Censors...

Jewish newspaper apologises for photoshopping Whitehouse pictures to delete women
Link Here

clinto at whitehouse meetingThe US based jewish newspaper, Der Tzitung, has had to apologise for removing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton from a front page photograph.

Clinton, as well Audrey Tomason, the Director for Counterterrorism and the only other woman in the picture, were disappeared in accordance with the paper's religious beliefs . Its policy is not to intentionally include any pictures of women in the paper because it could be considered sexually suggestive.

The picture taken by a White House photographer shows the US President and his national security team seemingly transfixed as they watch the mission to kill Osama bin Laden.

In a statement, the paper said:

We should not have published the altered picture, and we have conveyed our regrets and apologies to the White House and to the State Department.

In accord with our religious beliefs, we do not publish photos of women, which in no way relegates them to a lower status. Publishing a newspaper is a big responsibility, and our policies are guided by a Rabbinical Board.

Because of laws of modesty, we are not allowed to publish pictures of women, and we regret if this gives an impression of disparaging to women, which is certainly never our intention. We apologize if this was seen as offensive.

 

7th May   

Offsite: Not So Complete 14th Season...

South Park Season 14 has the TV censored version of the Mohammed episodes
Link Here  full story: South Park and Religion...South Park offends the easily offenced

South Park Complete Fourteenth Season South Park Season 14 has now been released on US DVD and Blu-ray.

Unfortunately the controversial 200th and 201st episodes are still censored, just as they were seen on TV.

But it gets worse. Each episode has a mini-commentary with Trey Parker and Matt Stone talking about the episode for 2-4 minutes before signing off and the episode playing as normal.

The commentary for the 201st episode is, shall we say, unique. Parker and Stone come in talking about the circus that surrounded the episode, reiterating what a bumper card preceding the episode says regarding the episode appearing on the disc just as it aired. Then, just as they're about to offer their thoughts on how it was handled...the commentary track bleeps. It bleeps out for a full minute and you'll honestly think you have a concussion, and that it's a ringing in your ears. Then it cuts back in to Parker and Stone, seemingly satisfied they've said their piece, signing off. Again, I hope it's genius comedy, but it's hard to know for certain.

Offsite: Bleeping Hell

7th May. See article from parcbench.com

I figured Matt and Trey would get to say a few things on the commentary track that would allow more of their voice to be heard. Unfortunately, this is not the case and the bulk of their commentary is also bleeped out with that same annoying tone that is spread throughout episode 201 (supposedly a speech about fear and intimidation that doesn't mention Muhammed). The beginning of the episode on DVD says the following words.

In the 14 years we've been doing South Park we have never done a show that we couldn't stand behind. We delivered our version of the show to Comedy Central and they made a determination to alter the episode. It wasn't some meta-joke on our part. Comedy Central added the bleeps. In fact, Kyle's customary final speech was about intimidation and fear. It didn't mention Muhammad at all but it got bleeped too.

...read the full article

 

6th May   

Update: Censorship Workaround...

Mozilla refuse US government request to ban Firefox add-on
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in USA...Domain name seizures and SOPA

mafiaafire redirector logo Mozilla officials have refused a US government request to ban a Firefox add-on that helps people to access sites that use internet domain names seized earlier this year.

The Firefox add-on, available on Mozilla.org, made it easy for users to access sites that used some of the confiscated addresses. It did this by redirecting them to substitute domain names that were out of the reach of US courts, such as those with a .de top level domain.

You simply type Demoniod.com into your browser as usual, the add-on's authors wrote in an FAQ explaining how it works. The browser sends the address to the add-on, the add-on checks if Demoniod.com is on the list of sites to be redirected and immediately redirects you to the mirror site.

US officials alleged MafiaaFire circumvented their seizure order and asked Mozilla to remove it. The open-source group, in not so many words, said no. Our approach is to comply with valid court orders, warrants, and legal mandates, but in this case there was no such court order, Harvey Anderson of Mozilla explained.

A vocal chorus of lawmakers and policy wonks have decried the domain seizures, arguing that the ex parte actions are a serious power grab that threaten the stability of the internet. If the US government can confiscate addresses it doesn't agree with, what's to stop China or any other country from doing the same thing?

 

5th May   

Update: Animated to Censor...

Anime ebooks banned from Amazon
Link Here

selfish demon kingRecently Amazon has become more strict in enforcing their content requirements for ebooks.

Several Digital Manga books that have been available online since 2009 are getting the axe, beginning with our 801 Media titles like Weekend Lovers and King of Debt . However, in the last few days the issue has spread to the June imprint by Amazon's refusal of The Selfish Demon King , and the removal of The Color of Love from the Kindle store.

We fear that Amazon may target more of our books for removal so we're warning all Amazon Kindle store users that providing you with our content may become more difficult in the future.

 

1st May   

Update: Pots of Money for Black Kettles...

US allocates funds to help the repressed world to work around internet censorship
Link Here  full story: Supporting Internet Censorship...US multi-nationals support repressive censorship

us dept of state logoThe US State Department is to provide $28 million in grants to help activists thwart internet censorship in repressive countries,.

The recent wave of revolutions in the Middle East and Africa has highlighted young people's use of Twitter, Facebook, and Google to organize protests and government opposition, as well as governments' willingness to cut off those services and even shut down all access to the web.

The U.S. has also criticized China for its Great Firewall, which broadly limits citizens' access to internet news and information.

It was not immediately clear which countries would receive the grants or how they would be administered, but Secretary of State Hillary Clinton decried internet crackdowns in Iran and Syria in a recent speech on Internet freedoms.

Republicans have criticized the program as wasteful in a time of government austerity.

 

29th April   

Rated M for Mature...

US self assessed ratings for console downloadable games
Link Here

ESRBThe Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) has introduced a new streamlined rating process for games that will only be sold and downloaded through console and handheld storefronts such as Microsoft Xbox LIVE Arcade, Nintendo Wii, or DSi™ Shop and Sony PlayStation Store.

These games will receive the same recognizable ESRB ratings via a process whose efficiency and ease of use provides the scalability necessary to address the steady increase of games delivered digitally across an ever-expanding multitude of new devices and outlets.

Publishers of these downloadable games will complete a different submission form than is used for all other games. The new form contains a series of multiple choice questions designed to assess content across all relevant categories, such as violence, sexual content and language, among others. The questions also address important contextual factors such as the game's realism and visual style, its incentives (i.e., whether a certain action is meant to be avoided or results in failure), the player's perspective (i.e., omniscient, distant or third person vs. immersed, close-up or first person), and more. The responses provided determine the game's rating, which is issued to the publisher as soon as a DVD reflecting all disclosed content is received by ESRB.

All other types of games will continue to undergo the traditional rating process, which involves completion of a more open-ended questionnaire and review of a content DVD by a minimum of three raters who reach consensus on the appropriate rating.

The ESRB rating process that has been in use since 1994 was devised before the explosion in the number of digitally delivered games and devices on which to play them. These games, many of which tend to be casual in nature, are being produced in increasing numbers, by thousands of developers, and generally at lower costs, said ESRB president Patricia Vance. This new rating process considers the very same elements weighed by our raters. The biggest difference is in our ability to scale this system as necessary while keeping our services affordable and accessible.

All games rated via this new process will be tested by ESRB staff shortly after they are made publicly available to verify that disclosure was complete and accurate. In the event that content was not fully disclosed during this process, the rating displayed in the console or handheld store will be promptly corrected. In egregious cases of nondisclosure – which include a deliberate effort to misinform the ESRB – the game and - more - all of its promotional materials will be removed from the store through which it is being sold, pending its resubmission to ESRB.

 

25th April   

Update: Freedom to Censor...

Obama's administration to appeal court rulings so as to allow TV censors to continue to censor strong language and nudity
Link Here
Barack Obama

  Censor in Chief

President Barack Obama's administration apparently likes its entertainment served up family-style: it has asked the US Supreme Court to review a court decision that defanged the FCC's restrictions on TV profanity and nudity.

In two separate decisions, a federal appeals court in New York ruled that the FCC's indecency policy was too vague to be applied in two rather blatant situations. One involved the use of 'fuck' on an awards shows on the FOX network, and the other concerned full-frontal nudity of a woman on ABC's NYPD Blue. In both cases, the court ruled that the FCC could not impose fines.

Now, acting US Solicitor General Neal Katyal is filing an appeal to the Supreme Court, saying the precedent now precludes the commission from effectively implementing statutory restrictions on broadcast indecency that the agency has enforced since its creation in 1934.

If the court accepts the case, it will in the coming weeks.

 

23rd April   

Update: Free Speech Case to be Proud Of...

New Jersey Koran burner wins settlement from employer who ignored his constitutional right to free speech and sacked him
Link Here  full story: Koran Burning...Symbolic gesture and easy offence

New Jersey state sealA New Jersey Transit worker who was fired after burning pages of a Koran during a demonstration in Manhattan in September last year has been reinstated, reimbursed for lost wages and benefits, and awarded $25,000 in compensation for the pain and suffering caused by his dismissal.

The reinstatement of the worker, Derek Fenton of New Jersey, was announced by the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey, which sued the transportation corporation on his behalf, arguing that his actions were protected by the First Amendment.

The reinstatement was part of a settlement agreement, filed this week in Federal District Court in Newark, in which Fenton dropped his suit in exchange for getting his job back.

In America, we have the right to burn all kinds of things --- letters, flags, books, Bibles and Korans, Deborah Jacobs, executive director of the New Jersey group, said.

Jacobs said the case should serve as a reminder to our leaders that they can't punish and censor political expression based on their own emotional reactions or sense of morality.

Fenton was fired two days after the demonstration, accused of violating New Jersey Transit's employee code of ethics by tearing pages from a copy of the Koran and igniting them with a cigarette lighter to protest plans for building a Muslim community center and mosque two blocks north of ground zero. He was participating in a protest staged by about 2,000 people near the proposed site of the center, 51 Park Place, during a day of memorial and prayer services marking the ninth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.

 

19th April   

Update: Significantly Cut NC-17 Version...

More details on the US release of a Serbian Film
Link Here  full story: A Serbian Film...Hype for the most 'outrageous' horror yet

a serbian film poster Srdjan Spasojevic's A Serbian Film will soon be getting a U.S. theatrical and VOD release.

Twitch has done some digging and is reporting that low rent distributors Invincible Pictures will be giving the film a limited theatrical release on May 13th in cities still yet to be named.

It will arrive on the big screen in an NC-17 cut running 98 minutes, with a longer but still slightly edited unrated version hitting FlixFling at the same time and running 103 minutes.

Home video details are still being worked out, but apparently the theatrical version will land on DVD with the stronger cut getting the high-def treatment.

By comparison the UK version runs 99:25s after 4:11s of BBFC cuts albeit with some cuts substituted. The BBFC noted the uncut submitted running time as 103:36s.

 

16th April   

Update: Three of a Kind...

US confiscates three major internet poker domains and arrests associated execs
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in USA...Domain name seizures and SOPA

PuritansIn a major operation against online gambling, the FBI and U.S. Attorney's Office have charged the founders of the three biggest Internet poker sites with supposed fraud, illegal gambling and laundering (ie spending) billions of dollars in gambling proceeds.

The FBI said it's indicting 11 defendants, including the founders of PokerStars , Full Tilt Poker and Absolute Poker, with bank fraud, money laundering, and illegal gambling offenses. The feds also seized five Internet domain names used by the companies to host their poker games and issued restraining orders against 75 bank account used to process payments. The U.S. attorney's office is also seeking $3 billion in damages. The defendants could be sentenced with up to 20 years in prison.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement: As charged, these defendants concocted an elaborate criminal fraud scheme, alternately tricking some U.S. banks and effectively bribing others to assure the continued flow of billions in illegal gambling profits Moreover, as we allege, in their zeal to circumvent the gambling laws, the defendants also engaged in massive money laundering and bank fraud. Foreign firms that choose to operate in the United States are not free to flout the laws they don't like simply because they can't bear to be parted from their profits.

The feds say the poker sites violate the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act passed in 2006. The offshore poker companies have argued they operate outside the reach of U.S. law.

 

15th April   

Unconstitutional Prudery...

Californian art exhibit censored after an employee cried 'sexual harrassment'
Link Here

silvia cossich goodmanManagers at the Marin Civic Center censored a painting of a nude female from an annual art show because an employee claimed it constituted sexual harassment.

The National Coalition Against Censorship and the First Amendment Project have now sent Marin County a letter to show them the error of their ways. In it, they sought to explain that:

  1. One painting of a naked lady in a contemporary art exhibit does not constitute sexual harassment. Even if you don't like paintings of naked people it still is not, and cannot be perceived as, the kind of systemic, repeated behavior that creates a hostile work environment and therefore sexual harassment.
  2. As a public space opened to exhibiting artwork, Marin Civic Center has First Amendment obligations to refrain from censoring work based on personal views. The courts say public officials can't pull strings to get rid of artwork that they personally don't like. That includes art featuring naked people. That even includes art featuring naked people in a venue where children might see it. The children WILL BE FINE. Really.
  3. When Marin Civic Center officials censored that painting, they not only abridged Silvia Cossich Goodman's right to free expression, they also did a disservice to the people of Marin County by not letting them evaluate art for themselves.

 

15th April   

Snoop Dogg Aroused by Censors...

Rapper complains that his single titled 'Wet' was changed to 'Sweat'
Link Here

Sweat Snoop David Guetta Remix Snoop Dogg has bemoaned a radio censorship ruling which required him to change the title of his single Wet .

Speaking to Vibe magazine, the rapper expressed his frustration at what he perceives to be double standards of acceptability in the music industry: I did a song called 'Wet' and these motherfuckers at radio made me change the title to 'Sweat'.

Snoop Dogg previously claimed that he wrote Wet in honour of Prince William's upcoming wedding to Kate Middleton and hoped that the track would be played at the royal's bachelor party.

Not sure if the lyric would be considered particularly 'appropriate' in the royal household:

Tell me baby are you wet (wet, wet, wet, wet, wet)
I'm gonna get you wet (wet, wet, wet, wet, wet)
Tell tell me baby are you wet (wet, wet, wet, wet, wet)
I just wanna get you wet wet (wet, wet, wet, wet, wet)

 

15th April   

Update: Fire and Ice...

Firefox add-on redirects requests from domains seized by the US to their new locations
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in USA...Domain name seizures and SOPA

mafiaafire redirector logo The seizure of file-sharing related domain names by the US Government hasn't been as effective as the entertainment industries had hoped since many of them simply continued their operations under new domains. To make these type of domain transitions go more smoothly, an anonymous group has coded a simple Firefox add-on that automatically redirects users to these new homes.

ICE director John Morton confirmed last week that the seizures will continue in the coming years. But at the same time the authorities amp up their anti-piracy efforts, those in opposition are already coming up with ways to bypass them.

One of these initiatives is the MAFIAA Fire add-on for Firefox. The plugin, which will support the Chrome browser at a later stage too, maintains a list of all the domains that ICE (hence the fire) has seized and redirects their users to an alternative domain if the sites in question have set one up.

 

12th April   

Dawn of the Red...

Hollywood remake of Red Dawn censored by China?
Link Here

red dawn 2011The 1984 movie Red Dawn portrayed a Soviet invasion of the continental United States wherein a group of high school students identifying themselves with their high school mascot (the Wolverines) are forced through circumstances to form up into a guerilla force conducting operations behind enemy lines. The film was a big hit as the Soviet Union was considered the greatest threat to the United States at that time.

In the fall of 2009 plans were put forth for a remake of Red Dawn, this time, rather than Soviets, it was to be Chinese invading the US and set in Washington State. The new film was to be completed and released in November, 2010. The filming was completed however the release was stopped.

It seems that Chinese pressure and US concern about possible consequential loss of trade opportunities put a stop to it.

The film has now been edited in post production and will feature a coalition of Chinese and North Korean Iinvaders. And it will be the North Korean element that will be the focus of the film. Film editors have replaced Chinese insignia and flags with those of North Korea.

Commentators at fromthetrenchesworldreport.com have contended that:

the Chinese have censored an American movie and to an extent as to make it unbelievable. How many people think North Korea could accomplish a ground invasion in the continental United States? The idea is laughable. Now on the other hand how many people consider a Chinese ground invasion as a plausible possibility?

 

12th April   

Romper Rant...

Jokey T-shirts with references to al Qaeda come to the attention of politicians
Link Here

romper 77 virginsBaby clothes with bad taste jokes about martyrdom and extremist Jihadist creeds have come to the attention of politicians.

Clothes and T-shirts with slogans referring to al Qaeda can be bought on the popular Cafepress website, which is run by a company based in California.

The items included a baby suit for newborn children carrying the slogan, Your 77 virgins are waiting for you in heaven so pull up your linen and start your grinnin, which refers inaccurately to the 72 virgins that are said to await Islamist martyrs in paradise.

Another baby suit declares, as for the disbelievers [Christians] they shall have an everlasting torture, a painful doom, while a one Ummah T-shirt was also available.

But Cafepress was also looking to cash in on those supporting the war on terror, with one T-shirt proclaiming, Take your jihad and shove it.

Another design printed on baby suits, T-shirts and even thongs was the slogan proud infidel. It was printed with two crossed machineguns and a target.

Based on article from dailyindia.com

British MPs have also called for a probe into the Californian website Cafepress, which is selling the clothes.

David Cameron has promised the Government will get a grip on extreme Islamism, the Daily Star quoted Robert Halfon Tory MP for Harlow, as saying.

 

11th April   

Googling for Shakedown...

US considering an expansion of domain blocking internet censorship
Link Here

Google logoThe US House and Senate are both drafting rogue sites legislation that will likely support website blocking at the domain name level and will require online ad networks and credit card companies to stop working with sites on the blacklist. That idea is controversial enough when only the government has the power to pursue the censoring; it gets even more controversial if private companies get the right to bring a censorship action in court without waiting for government to act.

Both houses of Congress are considering such a private right of action as they work to review and revise last year's COICA Web censorship bill, but Google can't say strongly enough what a bad idea this would be.

Appearing at today's Legitimate Sites v. Parasites hearing before the House Judiciary Committee, Google's Kent Walker was clear: a private right of action to bring a COICA claim would give rightsholders tremendous leverage over Google. Walker went so far as to warn of shakedowns from private companies wanting to force changes in Google's behavior.

Last year's version of COICA included no private right of action, but that could change this time around. As Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) said today, We could begin to grant a right of private action... I would be the first to be critical if we step over the line, but I think that there's more that can be done, and I think that we need to use this hearing as another opportunity to come up with some legislation that we'll all be proud of.

 

9th April   

Don't Mention the US Website Blocking...

US release their annual report on human rights throughout the world
Link Here

us dept of state logoHilary Clinton has introduced the 35th annual report to Congress on the state of human rights around the world.

In recent months, we have been particularly inspired by the courage and determination of the activists in the Middle East and North Africa and in other repressive societies who have demanded peaceful democratic change and respect for their universal human rights. The United States will stand with those who seek to advance the causes of democracy and human rights wherever they may live, and we will stand with those who exercise their fundamental freedoms of expression and assembly in a peaceful way, whether in person, in print, or in pixels on the internet. This report usually generates a great deal of interest among journalists, lawmakers, nongovernmental organizations, and of course, other governments, and I hope it will again this year.

I'm also pleased to announce the launch of our new website, humanrights.gov. This site will offer one-stop shopping for information about global human rights from across the United States Government. It will pull together reports, statements, and current updates from around the world. It will be searchable and it will be safe. You won't need to register to use it. We hope this will make it easier for citizens, scholars, NGOs, and international organizations to find the information they need to hold governments accountable.

We were particularly disturbed by three growing trends in 2010. The first is a widespread crackdown on civil society activists. For countries to progress toward truly democratic governance, they need free and vibrant civil societies that can help governments understand and meet the needs of their people. But we've seen in Venezuela, for example, the government using the courts to intimidate and persecute civil society activists. The Venezuelan Government imposed new restrictions on the independent media, the internet, political parties, and NGOs. In Russia, we've seen crackdowns on civil society groups turn violent with numerous attacks and murders of journalists and activists. In China, we've seen negative trends that are appearing to worsen in the first part of 2011.

As we have said repeatedly, the United States welcomes the rise of a strong and prosperous China, and we look forward to our upcoming Strategic and Economic Dialogue with Beijing and to our continued cooperation to address common global challenges. However, we remain deeply concerned about reports that, since February, dozens of people, including public interest lawyers, writers, artists, intellectuals, and activists have been arbitrarily detained and arrested. Among them most recently was the prominent artist, Ai Weiwei, who was taken into custody just this past Sunday. Such detention is contrary to the rule of law, and we urge China to release all of those who have been detained for exercising their internationally recognized right to free expression and to respect the fundamental freedoms and human rights of all of the citizens of China.

Beyond a widespread crackdown on civil society activists, we saw a second trend in 2010 -- countries violating the fundamental freedoms of expression, assembly, and association by curtailing internet freedom. More than 40 governments now restrict the internet through various means. Some censored websites for political reasons. And in a number of countries, democracy and human rights activists and independent bloggers found their emails hacked or their computers infected with spyware that reported back on their every keystroke. Digital activists have been tortured so they would reveal their passwords and implicate their colleagues. In Burma and in Cuba, government policies preempted online dissent by keeping most ordinary people from accessing the internet at all.

The third disturbing trend of 2010 was the repression of vulnerable minorities, including racial and ethnic and religious minorities along with lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. In Pakistan, for example, blasphemy remains a crime punishable by death. And the blasphemy law has been enforced against Muslims who do not share the beliefs of other Muslims, and also against non-Muslims who worship differently.

In the first two months of 2011, two government officials in Pakistan who sought to reform the law, Governor Taseer and Minister Bhatti, were targeted by a fatwa and assassinated. Also, in Iraq, Egypt, and Nigeria, violent attacks by extremists have killed dozens of people who have been peacefully practicing their religions, Christians and Muslims alike. In Iran, we have multiple reports that the government summarily executed more than 300 people in 2010. Many of them were ethnic minorities. For example, in May, four Kurdish men were hanged in Evin Prison. They had been arrested in 2006 for advocating that Iran should respect human rights. They were reported to have confessed to terrorism under torture. And because I believe, and our government believes, that gay rights are human rights, we remain extremely concerned about state-sanctioned homophobia. In Uganda, for example, homosexuality remains illegal, and people are being harassed, discriminated against, threatened, and intimidated.

 

7th April   

Eternity Extended...

Censored scenes restored to the novel From Here to Eternity
Link Here

Here Eternity Restored An original version of 1951 novel From Here to Eternity is to be reissued digitally, with previously censored references to homosexuality restored.

The heirs of author James Jones have struck a deal with an ebook firm to put out a new edition that includes two scenes with gay content.

The uncensored version will be released online from 10 May.

It will include a scene in which Private Angelo Maggio reveals he is paid to have oral sex with another man.

Another scene referring to a military investigation into possible homosexual activity will also feature in the text.

The restored version will also include profanity that was considered too extreme for Eternity's original publisher Scribner.

 

5th April   

Update: Burning Censorship...

Now US considers a defamation of religion law
Link Here  full story: Koran Burning...Symbolic gesture and easy offence

US SenateSenate Majority Leader Harry Reid says congressional lawmakers are discussing taking some action in response to the Koran burnings of a Tennessee pastor that led to killings at the U.N. facility in Afghanistan and sparked protests across the Middle East, Politico reports.

Ten to 20 people have been killed, Reid said Sunday on CBS' Face the Nation : We'll take a look at this of course. As to whether we need hearings or not, I don't know.

Sen. Lindsey Graham said Congress might need to explore the need to limit some forms of freedom of speech, in light of Tennessee pastor Terry Jones' Quran burning, and how such actions result in enabling U.S. enemies.

I wish we could find a way to hold people accountable. Free speech is a great idea, but we're in a war, Graham told CBS' Bob Schieffer on Face the Nation Sunday.

 

3rd April   

Raging Bitch...

Michigan drink censors ban beer label
Link Here

raging bitch beer logoFlying Dog Brewery is suing Michigan's state Liquor Control Commission in federal court over its prohibition of the Raging Bitch beer label.

In its complaint the beer maker alleges the agency is censoring its free speech, The Grand Rapids Press reported.

The 20th Anniversary India Pale Ale label urges customers: Remember, enjoying a Raging Bitch, unleashed, untamed, unbridled -- and in heat -- is pure GONZO.

Ralph Steadman, an illustrator best-known for collaborations with author Hunter S. Thompson, penned the disputed phrase.

The drinks censor banned the label and affirmed its decision on appeal. The commission based its ban on its power to censor language on the bottle that is detrimental to the health, safety or welfare of the general public .

MPAA logo

MPAA

Motion Picture Association of America

Films are rated for US theatrical showings and video formats by the MPAA.

The MPAA is a trade organisation, not a state censor. Ratings are voluntary and are not sanctioned by US law. Distributors can opt out of MPAA ratings and release the film MPAA Unrated.

The MPAA are also very active in actions against film piracy.

The MPAA established the modern ratings under the presidency of Jack Valenti

MPAA Presidents:
 - Jack Valenti 1966-2004
 - Dan Glickman 2004-2010
- Chris Dodd 2011-present

MPAA Ratings:

-  G: General Audiences: All ages admitted

- PG: Parental Guidance: Some material may not be suitable for children

- PG-13: Some material may  be inappropriate for children under 13

- R: Restricted: Under 17 requires  accompanying  parent or adult guardian
[in UK terms = 17A]

- NC-17:  No one 17 and under admitted
[in UK terms = 18]

- Unrated, not an MPAA rating but a distributor opt out

Previously there was an X rating which was replaced by the NC-17 in 1990. Distributors could also opt for this X rating without submitting the film for rating. This opt out was commonly used by porn distributors and the X rating became associated with porn. The replacement NC-17 is only available for films submitted to the MPAA.

The NC-17 is commercially unattractive as many theatres and a few retailers consider  themselves 'family friendly' and therefore refuse adults-only material.

MPAA's  film rating department is called Classification and Rating administration (CARA)

Websites:
  MPAA Corporate
CARA

Melon Farmers News:
US Censorship News
 

ESRB logo

ESRB

Entertainment Software Ratings Board

ESRB is a US trade organisation that assigns the age and content ratings displayed on all computer and video games, enforces marketing guidelines, and advises on online privacy issues.

ESRB Ratings:

- EARLY CHILDHOOD (EC) Content that may be suitable for ages 3 and older. Contains no material that parents would find inappropriate.

- EVERYONE (E) Content that may be suitable for ages 6 and older. Titles in this category may contain minimal cartoon, fantasy or mild violence and/or infrequent use of mild language.

- EVERYONE 10+ (E10+) Content that may be suitable for ages 10 and older. Titles in this category may contain more cartoon, fantasy or mild violence, mild language and/or minimal suggestive themes.

- TEEN (T) Content that may be suitable for ages 13 and older. Titles in this category may contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling, and/or infrequent use of strong language.

- MATURE (M) Content that may be suitable for persons ages 17 and older. Titles in this category may contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.  This category is particularly designed to ensure that the most adult possible can be sold at many supposedly 'family friendly' retailers who refuse to stock adults only titles

- ADULTS ONLY (AO) Content that should only be played by persons 18 years and older. Titles in this category may include prolonged scenes of intense violence and/or graphic sexual content and nudity.  Many US retailers refuse to carry AO titles

- RATING PENDING (RP) Titles have been submitted to the ESRB and are awaiting final rating. (This symbol appears only in advertising prior to a game's release.)

Melon Farmers News:
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